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Urheimat

From Academic Kids

"Urheimat" (German: ur- original, ancient; Heimat home, homeland) is a linguistic term denoting the original homeland of the speakers of a proto-language. Since many peoples tend to wander and spread, there is no absolute Urheimat, e.g. there is an Indo-European Urheimat different from the Germanic or Romance Urheimat. If the proto-language was spoken in historical times, the location of the Urheimat is typically undisputed, such as the Roman Empire in the case of the Romance languages. If the proto-language is unattested, however, its existence, and by consequence the existence and exact location of its Urheimat, will strictly speaking always be of a hypothetical nature.

Reconstruction

In cases where the Urheimat of a particular linguistic group is not positively known, one method to identify it is an analysis of the vocabulary of the proto-language. As an example, assuming there were no historic documents and one wanted to find the Urheimat of the Romance languages, the Romance root for "cow", which is quite similar in all Latin-based languages, would indicate that the Romance languages spread from an area where there were cows. On the other hand, there is no common root for "potato" in all Romance languages; therefore, South America would be a very unlikely Urheimat of the Romance languages, because, according to archaeological evidence, there were potatoes but no cows in South America before 1492.

COW

POTATO

  • Portuguese: batata
  • Spanish: papa (Latin American), patata (European)
  • French: pomme de terre or patate
  • Italian: patata
  • Romanian: cartof

After this manner, scholars have tried to identify the homeland of the Indo-European languages, to which the term Urheimat is most frequently applied. Possibly relevant geographical indicators are common words for beech and salmon (while there is no common word for "lion", for example – the fact so many European words for "lion" look alike is due to more recent borrowings). See Proto-Indo-European for a more detailed account of the question.de:Urheimat

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